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When the New Normal Is Unknown: Fear, Hope and Stupidity

The latest "news" or speculations or "I heards" include some fear, some hope, and a whole lot of stupid. Take comfort, for these days will, with God's help, end.

“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” — Inigo Montoya

The news is moving so fast, it is now ancient history that the U.S. Senate acquitted President Trump, in just the third impeachment trial in our history, just 46 days ago. Half that number of days ago, Bernie Sanders was the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race for the nomination. Joe Biden was looking very old, frail and absentminded.

At the end of February, we were preparing for March Madness, NASCAR races, spring break, and all the things that go with the season.

None of that matters right now.

Right now, all that matters is getting through the next two weeks without getting infected. All that matters is paying the mortgage, or the rent, or your employees, should you be unlucky enough to be a small business owner.

All that matters is having a mask to wear, and other protective equipment, should you be a healthcare worker. All that matters is getting through the next day, and not thinking if this is the new normal, because if it is, we are in very unknown territory. In fact, nobody in America has been here since 1929.

The latest “news” or speculations or “I heards” include some fear, some hope, and a whole lot of stupid. Take comfort, for these days will, with God’s help, end.

Fear: Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. Worse: Paul has no idea how he got infected.

Hope: The trial of Chloroquine and Azithromycin (Z-Pak) as a possible treatment for the virus will begin this week in New York.

Stupid: Insufferable Mayor Bill de Blasio went on “Meet the Press” and said “The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown.” He asked for the military to be deployed to New York City, when he refuses even to comply with his own governor’s requests.

Mayor de Blasio, please sit down and shut up.

Fear: A 44-year-old legal blogger, David Lat, normally healthy, not overweight, reasonably fit, who had completed the NYC Marathon twice, is now on a ventilator due to COVID-19. Why the virus hit him so hard and not his also-infected partner is unknown. Anyone can be David Lat.

Hope: Doctors are giving Lat the Chloroquine and Z-Pac treatment. We need to pray and hope this works.

Stupid: Rep. Ted Lieu, Democrat Loudmouth Idiot from California, tweeted that “Hydroxychloroquine & Azithromycin together causes a drug interaction that increases risk of irregular heartbeat, which may be life-threatening.” He added, “No one should take these drugs together without consulting a doctor.”

Lieu is a lawyer, not a medical professional. Also, to demonstrate the utter uselessness and stupidity of Lieu’s bad take, Phenol, the active ingredient in Chloraseptic sore throat spray, is deadly in doses as low as one gram. If you chug a few bottles of this over-the-counter medicine, it could kill you.

Fear: President Trump retweeted this thread from pharma financier Michael Coudrey citing a paper that pegs the upper bound of the worse strain of COVID-19 at an R0 (“R-Naught”) of 6.6. For comparison, the R0 of highly communicable Measles is 12-18. The R0 of Smallpox, the now-eradicated scourge of the disease world, was between 3.3 and 6.

If this is true, it’s a game changer.

I don’t know how we can fight an R0 of 6.6, other than by completely stopping the economy and suspending basic civil rights, which it appears Trump is willing to do.

Hope: Millions of Americans participated in church and worship this morning, either in their cars, or on the Internet.

My old church in Warner Robins did the drive-in thing.

“Hopefully this will bring a more sense of community and that people will realize that people can help each other out in a very difficult time,” said past Darrell Yarbrough. “America has always responded in difficult times and I think this is a great opportunity for the church to respond and be a light.”

Catholics, denied the ability to attend confession due to social distancing, have gone back to the Bible and decided adherents can go directly to God for forgiveness.

Stupid: A Twitter thread totally misrepresenting a heartfelt letter from Hobby Lobby owner David Green to his employees went viral. It is filled with untruths, but people who wish it were so are reveling in the lies.

Also stupid: Bernie Sanders is trying desperately to be relevant, suggesting that either doctors should not be treating patients, or that the government should somehow seize the means of production to make enough personal protective equipment.

Fear: We don’t know when the shutdown will end. The president is playing both sides, offering hope and also not committing. But that doesn’t help people who just lost their jobs.

Hope: Congress is finally on the right track to an economic booster shot to keep things from dropping into Great Depression mode. The bad news: it’s going to cost $2 trillion or more.

“I believe we are poised to deliver the significant relief that Americans need with the speed that this crisis demands,” McConnell said in a Saturday night statement, with the Senate poised to take its first procedural votes on the package Sunday.

Stupid: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is playing politics with the Senate’s progress in crafting the new bill.

The hopeful note stood in contrast to a missive that Pelosi sent to House Democrats on Friday evening, calling an initial Senate GOP measure introduced late Wednesday a “nonstarter.” Any bipartisan agreement, she said, must “greatly increase unemployment insurance and Medi­caid, help small businesses survive, expand paid sick and family leave and put money directly into the hands of those who need it most.”

Negotiators race to finalize coronavirus rescue bill to aid reeling economy, The Washington Post, March 21, 2020

We don’t need to be talking about unemployment insurance and Medicaid. We need to put cash in the hands of businesses that are about to fail, and in the hands of workers who are about to run out of money to buy essentials. Pelosi is as out of touch on this pandemic and its economic impact as she is on the feces-covered streets of San Francisco.

I haven’t even touched on the Chinese government’s use of Twitter to advance their own propaganda. Or every stupid hot take (there are too many) focusing on the president’s use of “Chinese virus.” Or every instance of government inefficiency, red tape, and incompetence. These are more than I wish to think about.

Like most Americans, I quickly venture out to forage for daily food and essentials, hitting no more than one or two stores. Then I return home to my family, which is home-bound and nearing stir crazy. Yesterday, we went for a short trail walk at a nearby nature preserve. We still maintained six-foot distance from others we encountered, but it’s good to know at least Mother Nature isn’t bowing before this virus.

This dark passage in our history will hopefully soon end, but soon or not, it will end. We who lived it will not forget what it’s like to live in the new normal of the unknown–when we get to watch sports, go to school, and attend church again.

The greatest hope is that the days of fear and stupidity are numbered, and God knows exactly when they will end. If nothing else, that gives me great comfort.

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